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Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.

Successful trifecta

Three Queen’s University academics earn honours for their work.

A trio of Queen's researchers are being recognized for their contributions following the recent announcements that Jacalyn Duffin will be inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, J. Curtis Nickel received the Mostafa Elhilali Award from the Societé Internationale d’Urologie, and Anne Ellis earned the F. Estelle Simons research award from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“Having three of our leading researchers earn some of the highest awards in their respective fields is a testament to the level of research excellence at this institution,” says Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “Seeing accomplishments like this from our colleagues makes us all stand a bit taller. I offer my congratulations to Drs. Duffin, Nickel and Ellis for their successes.”

Dr. Duffin’s research has addressed a wide array of topics, sources, places, and time periods: diagnostic technology, rural practice, drug development, disease concepts, health policy, and religious healing, including an exploration of medical miracles in the Vatican archives.

Dr. Curtis Nickel

A haematologist, historian and former Hannah Professor of the History of Medicine at Queen’s, Dr. Duffin has assured that thousands of physicians and nurses appreciate the broader cultural and social contexts of their professions arguing that the humanities, notably history, form part of balanced, effective training. Her textbook, History of Medicine: A Scandalously Short Introduction is read by students and lay audiences throughout the world. It presents encapsulated histories of medical specialties, featuring the cultural and social factors involved in their development.

“People who win awards have very kind and generous friends,” says Dr. Duffin. “It’s a huge honour for me personally, but it is much more significant for its implicit recognition of the importance of history in clinical practice and social policy.”

Dr. Nickel’s research covers inflammatory, benign prostate (BPH), and pain diseases (prostatitis and interstitial cystitis) of the urinary tract.  He has over 550 publications, is on the editorial board of eight urology journals (current editor of Urology Update Series), has been invited to present in over 35 universities in the United States and Canada and at meetings or events in over 45 countries worldwide. He presently holds the title of Tier One Canada Research Chair in Urology.

“Most of the credit for the impact we have made in the field of chronic urologic pain was because of the commitment and involvement of the thousands of men and women suffering chronic urogenital pain who agreed to participate in our many studies and clinical trials, says Dr. Nickel (Urology). “They taught us how to improve our treatment and, in my opinion, are the real heroes in our ongoing commitment to improve the life of patients diagnosed with this previously neglected chronic medical problem."

Dr. Anne Ellis

Dr. Ellis is the chair of the Division of Allergy and Immunology in the Department of Medicine and the director of the Environmental Exposure Unit (EEU). The EEU is a unique research facility located in the Kingston Health Sciences Centre that is capable of studying 150 patients at one time. Her main area of research is allergic rhinitis as well as umbilical cord blood predictors of future allergies in newborns.

Dr. Ellis also runs regular Allergy & Immunology Clinics out of the Hotel Dieu Hospital, providing clinical assessments of allergic rhinitis (hayfever), asthma, food allergy & anaphylaxis, drug allergy, stinging insect allergy, urticaria (hives) and eczema in addition to immunodeficiency and other immune disorders.

"It is truly an honour to have been given this award,” says Dr. Ellis. “Dr. Simons is well known as one of the top researchers in the field of allergy and immunology, particularly with regards to anaphylaxis and its management, as well as antihistamine research. It was wonderful to be recognized for my own contributions to the allergy field, with my personal research interests and publications reflecting the pathophysiology and advancements in treatments for allergic rhinitis, the developmental origins of allergy and asthma in early childhood, and other areas of research include anaphylaxis and peanut allergy.”

Queen’s receives $4M for new Lyme disease research network

New network will generate knowledge for prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment of the tick-borne illness.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Government of Canada announced a $4 million investment in a new multidisciplinary research network that will bring together scientists, clinicians, and patients to address gaps in the approach to prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease, on Monday, Oct. 15.

Many Queen’s researchers will be part of the research network, including:
Adrian Baranchuk (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences)
Rob Brison (Emergency Medicine)
Robert Calautti (Biology)
DongMei Chen (Geography & Planning)
Troy Day (Mathematics & Statistics)
Rylan Egan (Health Sciences)
Gerald Evans (Medicine, Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, Pathology & Molecular Medicine)
Katrina Gee (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences)
Michael Green (Family Medicine)
Ana Johnson (Cancer Research Institute, Public Health Sciences)
Kirk Leifso (Pediatrics)
Anna Majury (Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, Environmental Studies)
Bob McGraw (Emergency Medicine)
David Messenger (Emergency Medicine)
Lois Shepherd (Cancer Research Institute)
Prameet Sheth (Pathology & Molecular Medicine)
Marco Sivilotti (Emergency Medicine, Biomedical & Molecular Sciences)
Shakeel Virk (Pathology & Molecular Medicine)
Evan Wilson (Medicine)

Led by Queen’s University Professor of Emergency and Family Medicine Kieran Moore, the Pan-Canadian Research Network on Lyme Disease’s multi-pronged mandate seeks to make a national impact on health outcomes, practice, programs and policy related to Lyme disease. Lyme disease is becoming more prevalent each year, due in part to climate change.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Queen's University
Kieran Moore, Queen's University

“We would like to thank the Government of Canada and CIHR for the opportunity to advance the science of Lyme disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment,” says Dr. Moore, who is also the Medical Officer of Health with Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health. “Our network, based at Queen’s University, will collaborate with patients and our many academic and government partners to protect the health of Canadians from coast to coast. We will provide the national capacity to have a coordinated, integrated, and multidisciplinary response to the emerging infectious disease threat of Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria transmitted to people through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease can vary from person to person, but most people experience an expanding red rash at the sight of the tick bite, fever, chills and flu-like symptoms while others may have more serious symptoms, such as heart, joint and neurological disorders.

“With the incidence of Lyme disease on the rise in Canada, Dr. Moore and his team will be uniquely positioned to respond to the research gaps related to Lyme disease in Canada,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s.

This federal government’s investment, through CIHR, in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, is part of a concerted commitment to support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The Pan-Canadian Research Network on Lyme Disease also builds on Canada’s ongoing efforts to tackle the illness through surveillance, research, sharing of best practices, laboratory diagnostics and testing, prevention education, and public education and awareness.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support a research network that focuses on collaboration between Lyme disease stakeholders from across the country to improve patient outcomes and access to care,” says Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health for the Government of Canada. “We understand that Lyme disease is emerging in many parts of the country, due in part to climate change, and we are committed to minimizing the public health risk associated with this disease.”

Learn more about Canada’s federal framework for Lyme disease and the CIHR.

A royal honour

Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Richard Reznick receives honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, has been recognized with a major honour from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

[Dr. Richard Reznick RSCE]
Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's, received an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England on Wednesday, Oct. 10 in Liverpool. (Supplied photo)

At a ceremony in Liverpool on Wednesday, Oct. 10, Dr. Reznick was awarded an honorary fellowship. Reserved for surgeons and other distinguished medical practitioners, it is the highest honour the organization can confer.

“I have had a relationship with the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the British surgical community for 25 years, learning from each other, and sharing many common ideas about a joint vision of what modern surgical training looks like.” Dr. Reznick says. “It is an honour to be recognized by such a highly respected institution as an honorary fellow.”

His work with his colleagues in Britain centers around promoting an acceleration of the training needed to become a specialist; both here in Canada and in Britain. Britain sits at the long end of the time it takes to move through medical school, residency and postgraduate training to become a specialist compared to other countries. Much of Dr. Reznick’s work has been to streamline training where appropriate. 

“I sometimes worry that when I show up to speak at meetings in the UK, that they’ll be throwing rotten tomatoes at me. But they don’t,” Dr. Reznick says. “They embrace the fact that there may be a new way to accomplish training in their country, and that accelerated training may have advantages.”

Dr. Reznick was first appointed Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s in 2010 and was reappointed for a second five-year term in 2016. During his time as dean, Queen’s School of Medicine has embraced new models of teaching and training through the implementation of Competency-Based Medical Education across all of its residency programs.

Dr. Reznick, one of North America’s pre-eminent surgical educators, is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Surgeons, and in 2011, he was awarded honorary fellowships from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Queen’s receives more than $15.5 million for discovery science

The Government of Canada invests $558 million in NSERC’s Discovery Grants programs, including $15.5 million in support of Queen’s researchers.

Chemistry research
 More than 70  faculty and students across disciplines at Queen’s are receiving a combined $15.5 million in discovery research funding from the Government of Canada. (University Communications)

Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan announced an historic investment of $558 million in discovery research funding on Tuesday, Oct. 9, as part of the Government of Canada’s plan to attract global talent, promote diversity, and fuel discovery and innovation in science.

• The 70+ Queen’s researchers (faculty and students) have been funded through NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments Grants, and Discovery Grant Northern Research Supplements, as well as Canada Graduate Scholarships, NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Postdoctoral Fellowships
• The $558 million research investment announced Oct. 9 includes $70 million in new funding from Budget 2018. The grants go toward NSERC discovery programs, graduate and postgraduate scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and research tools and instruments
• This investment also includes $5.4 million in funding to more than 400 Early Career Researchers in the first year of their Discovery Grants to help them launch their careers
• Investments in science are essential to innovation and to the economic strength of a country

Supported through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Discovery Grant programs, the funding will provide over 4,000 researchers and students across the country with the means to pursue world-leading scientific work. This includes the more than 70  faculty and students across disciplines at Queen’s whose funding amounts to more than $15.5 million.

“Through this historic investment, Queen’s researchers will have the resources and tools to tackle questions of critical importance to Canada – from food safety to protecting the nation’s coastal waters,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  

According to NSERC, this is the largest investment in research from the funding agency this year and it includes $70 million in new funding announced in Budget 2018. With this investment, the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to science by giving more support to researchers and students

“Canada supports science and our talented researchers. Today, we are delivering on our historic investment in research and in the next generation of scientists. These remarkable researchers and students we are celebrating are working to make the world a better place and to secure a brighter future for all Canadians,” says Minister Duncan.

For more information on the Discovery Grants programs, visit the NSERC website.

Offering insight to address health care challenges

Richard Reznick
Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Richard Reznick, was appointed to the Premier's Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine on Wednesday, Oct. 3. (University Communications) 

Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's, is one of 11 leading experts appointed as members of the Premier's Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Members of the Premier's Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine
• Dr. Rueben Devlin, Special Advisor and Chair
• Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Professor and Dean, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto
• Connie Clerici, CEO, Closing the Gap Healthcare
• Barb Collins, President and CEO, Humber River Hospital
• Michael Decter, President and CEO, LDIC Inc.
• Peter Harris, Barrister and Solicitor
• Dr. Jack Kitts, President and CEO, The Ottawa Hospital
• Kimberly Moran, CEO, Children's Mental Health Ontario
• David Murray, Executive Director, Northwest Health Alliance
• Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences at Queens University
• Shirlee Sharkey, President and CEO, Saint Elizabeth Health

The announcement was part of a broader Ontario Government proposal to address challenges within the Ontario health care system, including hospital wait times and the lack of available beds.

“There are dramatic needs to improve our performance in healthcare, including ending hallway medicine,” says Dr. Reznick. “These are complex challenges that will require broad vision, creative thinking, and dogged determination. As Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, I see on a daily basis both the strengths and weaknesses of our system, and am very excited to be a part of the Premier's Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine that will help us move forward in delivering the best possible care to our patients across Ontario.”

Under the leadership of Rueben Devlin – who was named chair of the council and special advisor to the premier on healthcare following the election – the council will recommend strategic priorities and advise on actions that can be taken to improve Ontario's health outcomes and improve patient satisfaction, while making Ontario's health care system more efficient. The council members include representatives from academia, as well as the legal and hospital administration communities.

Dr. Reznick is one of two members of the council with a Queen’s connection, along with Humber River Hospital President and CEO, Barb Collins (MBA’05).

Since being appointed dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2010, Dr. Reznick has worked to strengthen relationships with Kingston Health Sciences Centre, while leading the development of new programs and approaches to differentiate Queen’s medical education. Under his leadership, the Queen’s School of Medicine launched Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) – Canada’s first and only direct admissions track for high school students.

More recently, Queen’s became the first medical school in Canada to institute a Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) model of medical residency training across all specialties. CBME transitions from a time-based means of measuring skill-development, to one that focuses on the ability of a medical resident to achieve competency in completing clinical tasks. Through more individualized learning and assessment, the program aims to help the next generation of medical residents become better physicians.

“During his tenure as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Reznick has been at the forefront of the development of innovative programs and approaches to medical training and assessment,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “I have every confidence that his ability to find new approaches to long-standing challenges will serve him and the Premier’s Advisory Council well.”

For more information on the announcement, visit the Government of Ontario newsroom.

Beauty of research resonates on campus

  • Art of Research photo exhibit
    Photos from the Art of Research contest are featured in a travelling, pop-up photo exhibit currently being held on the first floor of Stauffer Library.
  • Art of Research building banner
    New building banners highlighting Queen's research were recently placed on prominent buildings, including Stauffer Library and Grant Hall.
  • Art of Research light post pennants
    A series of four pennants, featuring photos from the Art of Research contest, adorn the light posts along University Avenue.

Every day impactful, cutting-edge research is being conducted at Queen’s and the university wants everyone to know about it.

Enter a new multi-faceted campaign on campus aimed at promoting and celebrating the groundbreaking work of the university’s researchers.

“Research is core to the foundation of Queen’s as an institution, yet much of the work takes place where it isn’t easily accessible to the public – in labs, archives, and in the field,” says Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives. “While many of our research promotion initiatives are aimed at external stakeholders, the goal of this campaign is to showcase the breadth and impact of our research to the Queen’s and Kingston communities, while at the same time adding a little more beauty to campus.”

Other building banners and light pole pennants around campus are highlighting a pair of celebrations – the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Education and the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

At the heart of Queen’s, building banners celebrating award-winning research don Grant Hall and Stauffer library. Pole pennants have also been installed on the light posts along University Avenue, featuring images from the Art of Research photo contest. Each year the popular photo contest provides faculty, students, alumni, and staff the opportunity to showcase their research, scholarly, and artistic work. It also provides many amazing photos.

Together, the new banners cover a wide array of research – from arts and humanities to physics to cancer and health sciences to biodiversity and climate change.

The first image, Santa Fina, was taken by Una D’Elia, a faculty member in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation, at Musei Civici in San Gimignano, Italy. The striking image shows a marble bust of a saint by sculptor Pietro Torrigiani, a competitor of Michelangelo.

The second image, Leaving Home, features a spheroid of cancer cells embedded in a 3D protein matrix as seen through a microscope. Taken by Eric  Lian, a PhD  student in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, individual cells can be seen radiating away on all sides.

The third image, Razorbill, was captured by Brody Crosby, a Master’s student in the Department of Biology during fieldwork on seabirds in Witless Bay, Nfld. Mistakenly assuming the approaching researchers were its parents, the razorbill chick is captured as it begs for a meal.

The fourth image is a rendition of the universe, and captures the work of researchers elucidating the fundamental building blocks of the universe, shedding light on things we cannot see.

The Art of Research is also being featured in a travelling, pop-up photo exhibit currently being held on the first floor of Stauffer Library. Offering a large selection of photos from the last three years of the contest, the exhibit highlights the diversity of research happening across campus.

The photo exhibit will subsequently be on display in Grant Hall for Homecoming, Oct. 19-21, and then in the Lederman Law Library, Oct. 22-Nov. 5.

The exhibit is also available to campus partners throughout the year for events and display purposes.

For more information on research at Queen’s or the Art of Research photo contest, visit the website.

A member of the prestigious U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, Queen’s has a long history of unmistakable discovery and innovation that has shaped our knowledge and helped address some of the world’s deepest mysteries and most pressing questions

Indigenous Mentoring Network hub launches at Queen's

A group of Indigenous scholars and staff officially join a national initiative and make plans for the year ahead.

  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Heather Castleden]
    Heather Castleden is one of three heads of the Indigenous Mentorship Network hub at Queen's, though she says she intends to turn over leadership of the hub to Indigenous health scholars. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Jesse Maracle Brittany McBeath Andrea Ianni CIHR students]
    Indigenous students Jesse Maracle, Brittany McBeath, and Andrea Ianni spoke to launch attendees about the value of mentorship. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network]
    After the panelists' remarks, attendees broke out into groups to set priorities for the year. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Jesse Maracle CIHR students]
    Each group answered six questions to help the network hub set priorities for the coming year. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Tara CIHR students]
    Attendees also completed a digital survey using their phones and laptops. Priorities included networking and professional development opportunities. (University Communications)

Queen’s recently hosted the launch for the local link in a province-wide initiative designed to support and grow the next generation of Indigenous health scholars.

The Indigenous Health Network is a national program funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, and supported by a number of host institutions including Queen’s. The launch of the Queen’s network hub, IMN-Queen's, brought together students, faculty, staff, and community members for a recent day-long conference to learn, share, and plan.

The conference included a webinar featuring Chantelle Richmond, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health and the Environment at Western University. Following Dr. Richmond’s remarks, a student panel featuring four Indigenous Queen’s students – two graduate and two undergraduate – spoke on the value of mentorship. Brittany McBeath, a graduate student in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, called the event inspiring and thought-provoking.

“It was most valuable to have been able to hear input from Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and health professionals about the role they wish IMN-Queen’s to play within our local academic community,” she says. “It is my hope that the network will serve as the glue that brings Indigenous and allied scholars and professionals from all disciplines together with the common goal of empowering Indigenous ways of knowing and doing through their work. This local network has the potential to create a space of sharing and of support for Indigenous health researchers at Queen’s.”

The Queen’s network hub is currently headed up by a team of three non-Indigenous faculty members, including Heather Castleden, the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities; Michael Green, the Brian Hennen Chair and Head of the Department of Family Medicine; and Lucie Lévesque, Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. Dr. Castleden is quick to point out that this group is merely initiating this network and they plan to take a back seat to Indigenous health scholars once it is established.

“We are all on a lifelong learning journey and need mentors along the way. I was fortunate to have tremendous mentorship from Indigenous scholars and community-based knowledge-holders through CIHR’s early networks, and it is our turn to pay it forward,” she says.

The day concluded with working group sessions designed to explore the value a mentorship network could have for its participants.

Part of establishing this hub involved setting local priorities for the year ahead. Following a survey of participants at the conference, the team behind the network is working to host networking and speaker events.

One such event is coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 21 beginning at 3 pm, where mentors and mentees (or those seeking mentorship) will gather on campus for a networking event.

The hub is also planning a 2019 summer institute which will be co-hosted with fellow eastern Ontario university Indigenous Mentoring Network participants. The institute will be themed around “Bridging Indigenous epistemologies and research methodologies” and will provide training for Indigenous communities, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and policy-makers.

Those looking to join the Queen’s network hub’s mailing list should email IndigenousMentorshipNetwork@queensu.ca.

CIHR’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health has funded eight Networks across the country, including the Ontario network. The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) and the Faculty of Health Sciences have provided top up funding to the Queen’s network hub.

To learn more about the Institute, visit CIHR’s website.

Helping interest in STEM take root

A graduate student’s passion project is opening up opportunities for dozens of Kingston-area grade school students.

[Queen's University Kathryn Hong Awesome Foundation Girl SySTEM Garrett Elliott]
Kathryn Hong introduces speakers during an event called the STEMist Fair held in June. (Supplied Photo)

Women accounted for 39 percent of university graduates aged 25 to 34 with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree according to a recent Statistics Canada National Household Survey.

This is despite the fact women represent the majority of young university graduates, and despite the increasing importance of STEM programs and a growing demand for tech talent in Canada.

There are a few reasons for this gap – and the simplest one may be a lack of opportunity and exposure. Research shows that students may not necessarily grasp the importance of science and math at a young age, and yet exposure to these activities is critical so they can make future career choices.

Enter the Girls SySTEM program – a pilot project getting underway in Kingston thanks to funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The program has also attracted private funding from local supporters such as The Awesome Foundation – Kingston, and multinational organizations including Novelis and Abbott Laboratories Limited.

This not-for-profit project aims to connect grade school mentees in grades 7-12 with professional mentors and learning opportunities in the STEM workforce. Since launching in April, the program has been able to facilitate 20 pairings, with a number of new mentees to be added in November through a new partnership to be announced.

A team of four leads the Girls SySTEM program, including one Queen’s graduate and three Queen’s students.

Kathryn Hong founded the program as a way of connecting others with the same opportunities she has had. Ms. Hong, a Masters student in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, first became interested in cardiology in grade 11. She says the mentorship she received at that time was instrumental in her academic journey and career path.

“With the help of my mentors, I have gained insight into the diverse avenues of medicine and in doing so, have acquired the confidence, support, and resources to excel,” says Ms. Hong. “I designed this program with the belief that we need to empower young students through first-hand experiences in their desired professional field and intervene at an early point of their academic career to effect substantial change.”

Working alongside Ms. Hong are Caleigh Matheson (Artsci’19), Girls SySTEM’s community director; Christina Yan (Artsci’19), the group’s mentorship coordinator; and Jelena Petrovic (MSc’18), who is working to engage the Kingston community with the organization.

Together, the group is recruiting mentees and mentors; hosting free monthly events focusing on building technical skills, professional development, and gaining leadership and career advice; solidifying their model here in Kingston ahead of a planned province-wide expansion; and growing their network of corporations, benefactors, and supporters to assist with future expansion.

[Queen's University Kathryn Hong Girl SySTEM]
Girl SySTEM mentees participate in an interactive science-based workshop provided by Science Quest, teaching students about changes in properties of matter. (Supplied Photo) 

Their first monthly event is coming up on Sunday, Sept. 30, where the mentees and mentors will gather for their first formal in-person group meeting. In October, program participants will be provided with a personalized tour from a manufacturer that happens to be one of the organization’s leading sponsors.

“Among our goals, we want to raise awareness of the diversity of women holding STEM positions so that we may attempt to alter the belief that STEM roles are solitary or genetically predisposed,” Ms. Hong adds. “We also hope to sustain girls’ interest in STEM throughout their high school careers and provide aspiring young girls with positive role models who will empower, support, and guide them towards career decision making.”

Ms. Hong adds that the Girls SySTEM program is currently seeking professionals working in a STEM field to sign up as mentors, as well as Queen’s student volunteers who can help in running the program. Queen’s faculty are also invited to join the growing mentorship network. 

Mentors, mentees, or volunteers seeking to join the Girls SySTEM program or learn more can visit girlsystemmentorship.com.

Two faculty named Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellows

Queen’s researchers awarded one of Canada’s highest academic honours for health scientists.

Queen's researchers Robert Ross and Michael Green
Queen's University researchers Robert Ross and Michael Green.

Queen’s University researchers Robert Ross (Kinesiology) and Michael Green (Health Sciences) will be formally inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) Fellowship, one of Canada’s premier academic honours, on Thursday, Sept. 13. As internationally-recognized researchers, Drs. Ross and Green were selected for their global leadership, academic performance, and scientific creativity.

“Drs. Ross and Green have left indelible marks on their respective disciplines and, through their knowledge translation efforts, have improved physical health and access to health care for Canadians,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).

Dr. Ross has been recognized nationally and internationally for his research and knowledge translation activities concerning the unique role physical activity has in the management of lifestyle-based disease. Since 1992, he has received $8.3 million of research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), won two of the most prestigious international awards for excellence in exercise science research, and served as the first vice-president of the Ontario College of Kinesiology and chair of the American Heart Association Program Committee for the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health.

“The generation of knowledge that leads to the creation of strategies designed to manage lifestyle-based disease, and the translation of that knowledge to the end user, has been my life’s work,” says Dr. Ross, of the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “It is an honour to be named to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences for our work thus far, and I look forward to using the platform provided as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences to continue promoting the message that exercise is medicine, and consequently, improving the health of Canadians."

Dr. Green is a leader in academic family medicine in Canada and head of the Department of Family Medicine at Queen's University. He is recognized across Canada and internationally for effective collaborations with Indigenous communities, and was instrumental in creating the College of Family Physicians Fact Sheet on Systemic Racism and Indigenous Health and on Canada's competency framework for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health. His research with Indigenous communities was recognized with a major Impact award from the Ontario SPOR Support Unit, and he leads the INSPIRE-PHC research program that includes six universities and 35 researchers.

“I am very grateful to be named as a fellow by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences,” says Dr. Green. “I have spent my career working toward increasing access to and equity in primary health care, and improving Indigenous health. I see this award not just as recognition for how far we have come in those efforts, but as emphasizing the need to continue these improvements into the future.”

Drs. Ross and Green will be named to the CAHS Fellowship at a ceremony in Ottawa, joining the ranks of other Queen’s CAHS Fellows, including Anne Croy, Susan Cole, Roger Deeley, Stephen Archer, Jacalyn Duffin, John Rudan, Chris Simpson, Elizabeth Eisenhauer, and others. The CAHS is one of Canada’s national academies, along with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. These academies inform government and the public on issues critical to health care and health improvement.

Learn more about the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellowship.


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